Culture Stuff: Battle Rap

I wrote this a while back for a site that is no longer up, but in reading it I felt it would be nice to keep as it still rings as true today as it did when I originally wrote this.

Aye Verb

In the summer of 2012 my two favorite battle rappers, Aye Verb and T-Rex, allegedly battled at the Ultimate Rap League’s Summer Madness 2.

Months later, I was treated to a video that featured three rounds of Aye Verb battling T-Rex and three rounds of T-Rex trying to get signed.

Just as much as I love rap, I love battle rap.

In fact, I was dangerously close to creating a battle rap blog… Still might one day.

One thing about battle rap that has always killed me was how often the people at the forefront of the movement try to affiliate themselves with the mainstream rap industry.

I understand that a lot of rappers got their start as battlers and at one point battling was just another part of the come up. The thing is, times are different now; not necessarily bad, just different. What I’m getting at is the cold hard fact that no rapper EVER needs to battle nowadays to get a rep. In fact, I’ll go as far as to say that if a rapper chooses to battle, he is effectively killing any chance he has at a successful mainstream career with every bit of recognition he gets as a “Battle Rapper”

I’ll use myself as an example. As I said before, I love battle rap. I’ll watch DutchVision, Dashliving, and every other street journalism I can making sure I see every interview with a rapper. That is, until they release a music video at which point, I don’t care because it’s always garbage. because it’s just not what I want to hear from them. There’s a reason why Jamie Foxx is a wildly successful actor and somewhat successful musician despite having a great voice. We as an audience only want the best meaning that, if we see that you’re great at something, we don’t really care about what you’re good at.

Every battle rapper is good at rapping in general… So what?

And yeah Serius Jones got a deal… So what? He got dropped and never once even scratched the surface of mainstream music with his tracks. Sure he didn’t get a chance to truly shine, but are you telling me that if he was good enough he couldn’t have blown up on his own without the help of Ludacris? Because if you are, I have a friend named 2Chainz who might disagree with you.

Believe it or not, this actually isn’t about shitting on battle rap though, because again, I love battle rap and for those wondering why I keep repeating it, it’s for all these ignorant internet fanboy motherfuckers who don’t understand the difference between honest criticism and “hating.”

I’m saying all this because I’ve believed for years that if battle rappers stopped trying to get signed and took enough pride in battling to consider it a main career goal, then battles would drastically increase in entertainment value and intensity. Whenever a mainstream rapper shows up at a battle, the performances suffers because both battlers cream themselves at the thought of a mainstream cosign. The thing with that is they’re already mainstream artists. Shit that “rap star” is only there in the first place because they’re a fan of the battlers.

I just feel that the day the battle rap industry realizes its own worth as a separate entity from mainstream rap will be the day these guys will finally be on the right track to getting paid what they deserve.

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